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NOAA Participates in International Workshop to Ensure Sustainable Trade in Sharks Listed in CITES

Jan 8, 2015

Workshop participants gathered in Santa Marta, Columbia, to discuss mechanisms to monitor and control the trade of CITES-listed shark products to ensure the survival of recently listed species.

NOAA Fisheries continues its commitment to achieving sustainable management of sharks on a global scale as staff joined more than 60 participants, representing over 20 countries, in  Santa Marta, Colombia, in a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) workshop on November 25-27, 2014. Attendees discussed the implementation of measures regulating the international trade in oceanic whitetip shark, three species of hammerhead sharks, and the porbeagle shark that were adopted at the 16th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to CITES held in Bangkok in 2013.

Participants discussed mechanisms to monitor and control the trade of CITES-listed shark products and the process for making a sustainability finding as required under CITES within the context of shared international experiences and case studies from different parts of the world. Through these controls, countries will ensure increased protection of these species, but continue to allow legal sustainable trade.

Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

"These listings, which brought commercially exploited marine species under the protection of CITES, were a turning point for both the treaty and shark and ray conservation," said Bryan Arroyo, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service International Affairs Program. "The United States strongly supported the adoption of these listings and we are committed to working with industries, foreign governments, the CITES Secretariat, and other partners, to ensure their effective implementation."

Sharks play an important part in the marine ecosystem. However, the sustainability of these species may be impacted due to an increased demand for shark products throughout the world. Due to the highly migratory patterns of these species –they swim long distances often crossing national boundaries—it will take a coordinated global effort to implement and enforce regulations to ensure controls by the Parties are upheld, ensuring survival of these species.

"Sharks are migratory species, so collaboration between and within countries is essential. We believe this workshop will inspire enhanced collaboration between fisheries and CITES authorities and are proud to be partnering with the Government of Colombia on this important workshop," concluded Angela Somma, Chief, Endangered Species Division of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service.

In addition to shark identification, the workshop in Colombia provided presentations and discussion of how countries are working towards enhanced traceability of shark products in trade, the role of tariff codes in facilitating trade monitoring, and control of
CITES-listed species through regulatory and enforcement tools.

Click here to access presentations from the meeting

What is CITES?

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement initiated in 1973 and is currently signed by 180 countries regulating global trade in imperiled wild animals and plants including their parts and products. 

The goal of CITES is to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. NOAA Fisheries advises the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on marine species issues under CITES. Click here for more information on CITES-listed sharks and rays.